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The TJ Smith Stakes is a Group 1 weight-for-age sprint, held at Royal Randwick Racecourse, on day one of ‘The Championships’. The $2.5m 1200m contest has become an awe-inspiring feature on the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival calendar, along with the G1 Doncaster Mile, G1 Australia Derby, and G1 Sires Produce Stakes, held on the same day.
First run in 1997, the race has a prestigious honour roll, including champion mare Black Caviar, and three time TJ Smith winner, Chautauqua. Perhaps the most notable edition of the race was his breathtaking win in 2017, where he made up an insurmountable amount of ground to get the job done, and leave punters’ jaws on the ground.
Two-time TJ Smith Stakes winner, Nature Strip, heads the betting for this year’s feature, after a disappointing last start defeat. Dabble has him $2.80, ahead of his usual sparring partner, Eduardo, at $3.70. Cult hero, Shelby Sixtysix, is on the next line at $5.50, and Masked Crusader is next best at $10.
As witnessed in Sydney in recent weeks, anything can happen and the heavy tracks look set to continue. So, we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you! Read on below to find our runner by runner preview of the 2022 TJ Smith Stakes along with The Shark’s best tips.
1. Nature Strip (11) – $2.80F
Jockey – James McDonald 58.5kg
Trainer – Chris Waller
Winner of this race in 2020 and 2021, who was disappointing last start in the G2 Challenge Stakes. He was sent out a short priced favourite on that occasion, and looked beaten a long way out. No doubt he should’ve won the G1 Lightning first up, and can’t be overlooked on one below par run. He should make light work of the outside gate, and if they don’t overdo it in front, he will take a tonne of beating third up.
2. Eduardo (3) – $3.70
Jockey – Nash Rawiller 58.5kg
Trainer – Joseph Pride
Resumed with a good effort in the G1 Lightning Stakes, before getting the job done second up in the G2 Challenge Stakes. He is yet to win over 1200m at Randwick, but he loves the wet and is as tough as nails. Should hold the rail from the good draw, and is another one who will take beating if they don’t turn the gas on too far from home.
Barrier 11 for Nature Strip.
Who are you with in this year’s TJ Smith Stakes? pic.twitter.com/STp37a1he4
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) March 29, 2022
3. Masked Crusader (1) – $10
Jockey – William Pike 58.5kg
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
Was only fair first up in the G1 Lightning, before an improved performance in the G1 Newmarket. He, like many others, was on the wrong side of the track on that occasion, but made good late ground. His runner-up effort in last year’s The Everest here at Randwick was phenomenal, and if they overdo it up front, he is capable of reeling off some good late sectionals.
4. Zoutori (7) – $101
Jockey – Damian Lane 58.5kg
Trainer – Mathew Ellerton
Resumed with an ok effort in the G1 Oakleigh Plate, before finishing midfield in the G1 Newmarket. He raced on the superior inside lanes on that occasion and failed to make much impression. Comes to Sydney now, and faces a heavy track, which he has never seen, and arguably tougher company. Should get a nice run from the gate, and respect the stable, but it would be a surprise to see him win this.
5. Count De Rupee (4) – $41
Jockey – Brock Ryan 58.5kg
Trainer – Robert & Luke Price
Consistent galloper who was never sighted first up in the G1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington. Gets back to familiar territory here, but faces the country’s best sprinters at WFA. Looks to have the task ahead.
6. Shelby Sixtysix (10) – $5.50
Jockey – Tommy Berry 58.5kg
Trainer – Danny Williams
Enigmatic sprinter who just keeps raising the bar. Excellent win last start in the G1 Galaxy at Rosehill, on yet another heavy track. Beat home Nature Strip, and scared the life out of Eduardo a month ago in the G2 Challenge Stakes, and will be out to go one better here. Loves the wet, and 1200m is no problem. Can win again.
7. Rule of Law (5) – $81
Jockey – Brenton Avdulla 58.5kg
Trainer – Bjorn Baker
Winning streak came to an end two starts ago when Shelby Sixtysix got the better of him in the G3 Maurice McCarten Stakes. He then finished well back in the G1 Galaxy a fortnight ago, again chasing Shelby Sixtysix. Hard to see him turning the tables on that galloper, let alone some of the others here, and his best form is at Rosehill.
8. Roch ‘N’ Horse (8) – $16
Jockey – Hugh Bowman 56.5kg
Trainer – Michael Moroney
Kiwi sprinter who got the job done at cricket score odds in the G1 Newmarket Handicap last start. She raced in, what seemed to be, the better going on that occasion, but nevertheless was a strong win. Untried on heavy ground, but the in-form Moroney camp wouldn’t have sent her this way for no reason. Hard to rule her out after what she did last start.
Can Nature Strip win his third consecutive $2.5m Furphy TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick this Saturday? Will the Shelby Sixtysix form hold up? Check out the barrier draw 👇 pic.twitter.com/lIpBkRLCnJ
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) March 28, 2022
9. Overpass (2) – $17
Jockey – Tim Clark 56.5kg
Trainer – Bjorn Baker
In-form colt who was a class above them two back in the Inglis Sprint at Flemington. He then finished a close up 5th last start in the G1 Galaxy, where he raced in restricted room, and arguably should’ve finished closer. Draws to get a good smother behind the leaders, and is more than capable of running into the placings.
10. Belucci Babe (9) – $26
Jockey – Joshua Parr 56.5kg
Trainer – Bjorn Baker
Another in-form galloper from the Baker yard, who was good to the line in the G1 Galaxy last start. Prior to that she donkey-licked her rivals in the G3 Wenona Girl at this track/distance, and in similar conditions. Steps up to G1 WFA now which is her biggest test, but on recent form shouldn’t be far away from the action.
11. Paulele (6) – $14
Jockey – Jamie Kah 56.5kg
Trainer – James Cummings
Godolphin colt who got back last start in the G1 Galaxy, and never really got into the race. Returns to Randwick here where he is unbeaten in 5 starts, and has a brilliant record this trip. Heavy track presents some query after his last start, but if he can handle it, he’s certainly got what it takes to measure up.
Another week, another feature race meeting, another wet track. This year’s TJ Smith looks a good little race, with a few questions to be answered.
Can Nature Strip hit back after his last start disappointment and make it three TJs in a row? Can Eduardo win again and break his 1200m/Randwick hoodoo? And can the party boy, Shelby Sixtysix, rise again and continue his fairytale story?
There’s no doubting, that on an even track, Nature Strip and Eduardo, would clearly be the two horses to beat in this race, but after another week of wet weather, the race looks more open than that.
“Eduardo is a mile in front and he’s going to win the trial rather comfortably.”
A nice clean out for @PrideRacing‘s star sprinter Eduardo ahead of next week’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes, @nashhot had him in cruise mode at Warwick Farm downing Just Folk and Rock My Wand. @tabcomau pic.twitter.com/gHTM38nCRl
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) March 24, 2022
As mentioned, Shelby Sixtysix loves the slop, and it’s hard to knock him on recent form. Last year’s The Everest runner up, Masked Crusader, looks primed to run a big race third up here, and three year olds, Overpass and Paulele, are capable types. Newmarket winner Roch ‘N’ Horse is also not without hope, and can’t be overlooked.
Along with the wet track, I feel the tempo of the race will play a big role here. Eduardo should hold the inside from the low draw, with Nature Strip perched on his outside. Overpass looks the only other real speed influence on paper, which may give McDonald and Rawiller a chance to control it up front.
With that in mind, I’m going to stick with the class runners, and believe Eduardo can get the job done again, and give connections some confidence he can run a strong 1200m at Randwick, ahead of this year’s The Everest.
Best TJ Smith Stakes Tip: 2. Eduardo – Win ($3.70)
TJ Smith Stakes numbers: 2-1-6-3
If you need more news, information and tips, head over to our TJ Smith Stakes page for all your punting needs!
*Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of Dabble.